Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Happy 21st Tiffany

My daughter turned 21 yesterday.
Originally, she wanted to have 3 friends over and have an evening of making sushi at home while listening to Japanese music and then to watch horror movies on the big screen TV. Her friends bailed!
So, instead, I got some family friends over and we went to eat hibachi at a great Japanese rest. nearby.
Now to explain the king cake! I have mentioned to you before that we used to live in New Orleans. Well, Tiffany considers New Orleans home to her as I do as well. Ever since moving she has asked that I make her a king cake for her birthday. Well, this year she didn't ask and I made it for her as a surprise. Everyone at the rest. was intrigued to hear the history of the king cake so I thought I would share it with you this morning.
The history of the king cake starts in 12th century France where the cake would be baked on the eve of January 6th to celebrate the visit of the 3 wise men to the Christ Child. A small token would be placed inside as a surprise.
However, I'm sure you know that there are rituals that included the cake even further back then that. Apparently, back in Western Europe during the pre-Christian religions, it was believed that there needed to be a sacrifice for the harvest to be a good one. Therefore, to choose who would be the sacrifice they would bake a cake and put a bean in the cake. Whomever, selected the piece with the bean would be the sacrifice. He would be treated like a king for a year and then sacrificed and his blood put back into the soil making the harvest bountiful.
Then when Christianity came into play, they put their own spin on it as to not have any sacrifices, they chose to have it symbolize the 3 wise men coming to visit the Christ child. The French brought this tradition with them when they migrated to Louisiana and there it remained as part of the ceremony for the Epiphany.
When the cake was incorporated into Mardi Gras it was used by the 12th night revelers to select who their queen of the ball would be. They still do this to this day, however, now they use a wooden replica of the cake. The women pull out drawers and if you have a silver bean you are in the court and a gold bean means you are the queen of the ball.
However, for us peasants.....we have parties every weekend starting January 6th until Mardi Gras. Whoever gets the baby in the king cake at one party has to have the next party and supplies the king cake for that party.
These cakes are simply a cinnamon roll made into a log formed into a circle or sometimes braided. The fillings can be quite extravagant as well. My family prefers the cream cheese. Others can be cinnamon, apple, strawberry, blueberry, raspberry...you name it!
So, hope you all enjoyed that and have enjoyed sharing in my daughter's 21st birthday.